Feb 28, 2010

Cathedral - The Guessing Game

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Finally after five years, Cathedral are set to release officially their new album "The Guessing Game" on Nuclear Blast Records. Being one of my favorite all time bands, the wait for this one has been extremely difficult but finally i have a copy here to share my thoughts on. The first thing is this is a 2CD set, not a single that was originally posted on various websites. Its a little odd that decided to take this route as the album would have fitting nicely onto a single disc if they have had removed a couple of time-wasting moments that this epic album has but its a minor complaint as this is classic Cathedral. How it stands up against the other Cathedral output will come down to personal taste and nothing more but here is my take on it. The album features more of the great artwork of long-time collaborator Dave Patchett so you know this is Cathedral right from the get go. The Guessing Game sees the band in familiar territory but with a few surprise moments thrown in there that add to their already eccentric musical approach. The first real track after the intro is "Funeral of Dreams" and it has all the elements that makes this band tick. Bruising Stoner meets Psychedelic Doom sections, mellotrons, strange Progressive Rock time changes and Lee Dorrian’s distinctive vocals which sound better on this album than ever before. Where most Cathedral albums kick off with a real heavy track, "Funeral Of Dreams" while being heavy sees the mood in a very 70's occult rock vibe much like 70's bands like Black Widow.

It is a strong way to open the album but things get cranked up a notch for the next track "Painting in the Dark" which is more straight ahead rocking much like songs from "The Carnival Bizarre" era of the band. "Death Of An Anarchist" brings in a much slower groove to the Doom table, more mellotron is featured and shows more of the band's appreciation for 70's heavy prog music. Next up in the title track "The Guessing Game", it is a instrumental featuring even more mellotron and although it is a great piece of music, it also seems to be oddly placed in the running order of the album. Next is pure classic Cathedral, "Edwige’s Eyes" is the most Sabbathian track on the album and also one of the catchiest tunes on The Guessing Game. Its a stomping bruiser of a track with a riff that wouldn't have sounded out of place on any of Sabbath's mid 70's albums. It also has a infectious hook and its just as good as any Cathedral song written to date, solid Stoner Doom for all of its 7 minutes and a major highlight. Disc one ends with "Cats, Incense, Candles & Wine" and this shows Cathedral at their quirky best, heavy but full of progy influences.

The band has been one to take the occasional musical risk and this song is another one of those but with Lee Dorrian nailing the vocals with such precision and Gaz Jennings playing at what sounds like his musical peak, it all works. This finishes up disc one which may not be as instantly satisfying as the material on "The Garden Of Unearthly Delights" but after a few spins, it quickly cements itself in your braincells and therefore begs for another spin. Disc Two kicks off with "One Dimensional People" where drummer Brian Dixon steals everybody's thunder with a massive sound but this turns out to be one of those time wasting tracks i mentioned earlier and didn't leave a lasting impression on me. The following track however is magic, "Casket Chasers" is a more up-tempo burner that by Cathedral standards is pretty straight-forward but it rocks totally. "La Noche Del Buque Maldito (aka Ghost Ship Of The Blind Dead" is next up. It begins very weird and Psychedelic before pushing on the gas pedal to what is one of the most up-beat tracks the band has ever produced. A good track but one of the surprises i mentioned earlier, it comes at you without warning but once you get over the initial shock, it is a pretty cool tune. That leads into "The Running Man" with more Progressive indulgences mixed with raw Stoner Doom riffing and a great vocal performance from Dorrian. That takes you to the most Doom track on the album called "Requiem For The Voiceless". Here Dorrian explores a animal-rights theme to the lyrics which is something i don't think they have ever done before. Its a heavy-laden Doom groove that is one of the longest tracks on the album at almost 10 minutes. The length of songs on disc two and the material within give the second disc a more experimental vibe compared to the first which is more straight-forward overall.

The final track is interesting and funny at the same time, its called "Journey Into Jade" where Dorrian incorporates the names of previous albums into the lyrics. It is a lyrical account of the bands history set to music and while it would be a cheesy exercise for most bands, Cathedral get away with it leaving you with what is a very enjoyable tune. He also asks the public questions like "Will our vinyl be rare and collectible?". Indeed i guess time will tell on that one Lee!! The overall vibe of "Journey Into Jade" is one of pure fun which is pretty rare for a band of this genre to attempt such a song but once again it works. The album ends with a bonus track but its another filler moment and then after 80 minutes its all over. The production by Warren Riker is a bit cleaner than the last few albums especially in the sound of Jennings which is a little low in the mix at times. The bass and drum sound is great though and Dorrian's vocals are his best to date. Cathedral are still very innovative and still play with a element of freshness that which shows they have no shortage of musical ideas. The album plays out almost like a best of Cathedral album as far sounds and genres are concerned. They cover almost everything the band has done in the past from the Psychedelic Stoner Doom of "Edwige’s Eyes" to the way out "Cats, Incense, Candles and Wine" to total Doom in "Requiem for the Voiceless". Where the band goes from here on is anyone's guess but they have produced a impressive album that was worth waiting 5 years for, i just hope its not another 5 years for the next installment. This rates in third place as my favorite Cathedral album behind the debut and "The Garden Of Unearthly Delights" but it is real close in quality to those two. Its only the overall length of the 2CD set and a couple of filler's that stop the album from being one the best things they have ever done. Cathedral fans will still want to buy the album as soon as possible and with a possible US tour on the horizon, the next year or two could be the most exciting in the bands career. Due for release in the US on April 20th. 8/10

NOTE: This is one of those albums that repeated plays uncovers several weak points, the rating of 8 may be a little high for this album but i still think its a fair score for the album. I still stand behind my review despite some hate mail that has been sent my way saying things like and i quote, "I think something is wrong with your stereo system".

www.myspace.com/cathedral

Feb 26, 2010

Ufomammut - Eve

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Confession time, i wanted to be the first at reviewing this album but those dudes at The Obelisk website beat me to it once again, damn you guys are on top of everything. If you want proof that 2010 is indeed the year of Doom, just pick up a copy of the new Ufomammut album "Eve" which is due for a release in May. This is their fifth full-length, the album was recorded at Locomotore Studio in Rome by Lorenzo Stecconi, who worked previously with the band on Idolum. The album consists of a single 45-minute track that is made up of five parts and is described as "a homage to the first Woman on Earth, Eve and her rebellion against her creator for bringing knowledge to Man". In the context of one gigantic piece of work, this is maybe the greatest Doom epic ever recorded. It is very rare when you hear such a long composition of Doom that is so seamless and constructed in such a flawless way. Even though the album is made up of five different tracks, there is no gaps between songs so it flows like one continues long song. Trying to pick highlights is virtually impossible, the whole album is epic killer material from start to finish but there is some moments that stand out. The opening of the album is one of those, it is simply like a bomb going off in the musical sense. Thunderous, rumbling and extremely un-nerving to the maximum levels of sonic exploration. The opening section shall we call it is simply titled "I" and it contains everything from ambient pieces to noises and samples along with layered guitar that is among some of the grimmest, heaviest sounds ever recorded by the band. There is chanting vocals and when it comes towards the end of the track, the distortion level is increased cranking up the track to a bombastic peak. When it moves into "II" and it is hard to spot seeing as the album is so seamless, you are greeted with drones and organ that build up a repetitive but mesmerizing atmosphere. The song increases in intensity when the real heavy riffing comes in at about the halfway point in the track. When "III" kicks in with what is the shortest section on the album, the mood changes a little. This track is one monster riff without too much in the way of experimental noises and therefore stands out as being one of the heaviest moments on "Eve". "IV" continues the album like the previous track never actually finished. There is guitar feedback with the vocals jumping from left to right creating a swirling, psychedelic effect. This leads into the final part of the album "V" where you get a little break and by now you will need one. The piece starts with guitar work similar to how the album started before it builds into another repetitive, heavy section that this band are true masters of producing. It builds to a terrifying level of heaviness that is capped off with samples and feedback. When the album finally winds down, it leaves you breathless. While Ufommamut have always been about sonic exploration and experimentation, on this album they not only nail the style but they have also taken it to a whole new level. I have always thought they are a great band but one that always had the potential to be even better and with "Eve", they have achieved just that. This is their best album yet and one of the best Doom albums ever produced, without question. 10/10

www.myspace.com/ufomammut

New Releases From Solitude Productions

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The third album of this enigmatic band combines the conceptions laid in their previous albums: exalted lightness of «Ea Taesse» and severe darkness of «II». Unique atmosphere of Ea fuses epic funeral doom with atmospheric ambient adding touch of classical music to the work’s canvas.

Melancholic piano, beautiful guitar solos and choirs create a monumental memorial to ancient civilizations bringing their echoes in enchanting Ea music.

The epilogue of Ea trilogy is the start of the path to the roots of the World.

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The second full-length album of magnificent Spanish band. In its 11-year history the band played a number of gigs in Spain and other countries, contributed to A Tribute to Katatonia, issued the debut album in their home country and received numerous positive feedbacks in various musical magazines. Now the musicians’ search for novel sound and tendencies towards high-quality recording and mastering embodied in their new album «Forthcoming Displeasures»! Indeed emotional music combining shades of grief and sorrow is able to touch the souls of listeners, especially the ones who like last works of Katatonia, Paradise Lost and Draconian. The album is available in digipack format.

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The debut album of a young French band. The music of the group varies from slow majestic passages to extremal fast fragments overcoming the frames of gothic/doom metal. Lyrical piano fragments and atmospheric keyboards, harsh blastbits, clean and growl vocals have found their place in Wedding In Hades music.

«Elements Of Disorder» combined elements of My Dying Bride and Katatonia with their own vision of dark and extremal metal.

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The debut album of the side-project of the Revelations of Rain guitarist could appear as a surprise for those who have already appreciated the works of the mother-band. Combining major influences of Italian band Novembre with minor traces of Revelations of Rain the debut album of On The Edge Of The NetherRealm accents to outstanding melodies supported by solo guitars. Having been found a golden mean between harsh and lyrical music «Different Realms» becomes an outstanding example of harmonic fusion of doom/death metal and dark metal.

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The debut official release from a unique Belorussian band. The music of Re123+ is an act of meditation. Each time the band offers to a listener another kind of sound, never repeats itself preparing a special program for each concert. “Magi” is a travel to the Past demonstrating the ancient story of Adoration of Magi to the listener as an astrological story. This is the attempt to understand and to see the true essence of matter while clearing it from various interpretations. This album like all other Re123+ works was recorded during night time. Besides traditional drone-touched guitars the musicians introduced sounds of accordion, triangle and percussion. Stylistically their music varies from drone-doom to post-rock and will surely suit the tastes of early Earth fans. For proper visualization of the album’s idea the booklet includes photo art by members of Re123+ accompanied by citations from «The Island of the Day Before» by famous postmodernist Umberto Eco.

You can listen preview of all our releases at our Site, Last.FM pages and MySpace.

Web store - http://solitudestore.com/en/

Solitude Prod - Russian Doom Metal Label
http://www.solitude-prod.com
http://www.myspace.com/solitudeprod
http://www.myspace.com/badmoodman
http://www.last.fm/label/Solitude+Prod
http://www.last.fm/label/BadMoodMan+Music

Feb 24, 2010

Stonehelm - S/T

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California's masters of weed metal are about to unleash on your unsuspecting ears their debut full length album. Load up your bongs, grab a beer and hold on tight because this is a hell of ride. Before you rip your speakers apart with the fuzz driven onslaught, mesmerize your self with the stunning artwork. Adorned with marijuana buds and beautifully presented in purple and gold, the artwork of The Perverted Old Goatess is breathtaking much like the sonic fury that lays within the grooves of this self-titled album from Stonehelm. The packaging comes complete with a booklet containing the lyrics and the centerpiece artwork is especially fitting, a goat head, marijuana leaf, skulls and those immortal words "So High We Hail". Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered at Blue Dragon Productions in Somis, California By Mark Hashimoto and Stonehelm themselves, its a exercise in Ultra Heavy Cosmic Metal Stoner Doom that will make Jus Oborn put down his pipe and take notice. The album contains five songs from their previous "So High We Hail" EP that have been giving a sonic makeover and re-recorded for this album and three new tracks. The album begins with "Hyborian Tale" that sounds heavier here than ever did on the EP. The movie sample intro commands you "crush your enemies" and this track does just that. The riff is drowning in distorted fuzz with a rhythm section that has a ferocious attack just as heavy as the guitar sound itself. It has a mid-tempo swampy groove with a swaggering attitude and with lyrics like "While Stopping To Smoke The Earth's Sweet Leaf, The Hessian Warrior Is Ambushed By Thief's", you know you are on a Stoner Doom bong hoping journey. What first grabs you is the production which is great and then the actual sound of the band which is a wall of sound. No gaps or spaces within the instrumentation here, this is pure solid riffage designed to crush scene kids. "Tower of Black" starts off with a slow building melody that sounds almost re-strained by Stonehelm's standards. They don't hold back for long though, when the monster riff makes its presence known you are greeted with another wall of smoke-laden fuzzed out Doom riffage. There is a cool guitar solo that takes the song to another level of toxic awareness and the repetitive riffing approach is used with the intent to beat you into submission. This is a great track that always seems short to me but maybe that is because it is so great, i really cant get enough of this stuff. "Deep Space Doom" is the next tune to puff on, it kicks off with a almost funky bass line and a spoken word sample that gives it a Psychedelic cosmic vibe. The riffage onslaught comes in and its another churning dose of Stoner Doom. The vocals on the album by John have a spacey feel to them, like he is some commander in space shouting orders like "Take Your Final Hits Of Weed and Now Watch The Sun Fade To Green". "Zombie Apocalypse 420" begins with another sci-fi/horror movie soundbite before catapulting itself into one of the best riffs on the album. While the band has the obvious Electric Wizard influences, they take it up a notch in tempo rather than crawl along at a snail pace, they keep up a momentum in their songs while still remaining total Doom. The tune ends with a water bong being consumed. "Scumbag" tells you to take drugs and hate everyone and there is a lot of aggression delivered along with the fuzz on this track. "Scumbag" has a pulsating groove that has been done before but this has to be one of the best examples of it in action. The feature of the track is the squealing, gyrating solo which is simply a whirlwind of sonic excess. "Acid Blur (Green Tab)" is a instrumental epic verging on 11 minutes, here you can hear the band jam their way through some remarkable riffing sections and catchy headbanging melodies. Its almost impossible to get the main riff out of your head after hearing it. About halfway into the track, they slow down to a crawling sludge groove with a wailing guitar solo by Wes Caley after which the track returns to that incredible riff once again to finish up what is a killer track. "Vault Dweller (13)" is up next with a sick sounding bass/drum intro that slowly builds into another apocalyptic wall of riffing backed up with the outer worldly vocals. Again it stampedes like a herd of elephant and there is more shredding solo guitar work. To round out the album you get what is the Stonehelm theme song or anthem "So High We Hail (Lord in Green)" where they spread the message to "Hate The Cops And Smoke More Weed" and if there ever was a Doom / Sludge album to do bong hits to, its this one. Once again Stonehelm unleash another colossal riff and more shredding solo's. In conclusion, this is maybe the finest album of its kind since Electric Wizard dropped Dopethrone on the world. If you are the kind of Doom, Sludge Metal fan that likes it heavy, fuzzy and clouded in weed smoke, then i doubt if you will hear anything better than this in 2010. This is the real deal right here, due out very soon for your consumption. 10/10

Stonehelm @ Myspace

Feb 23, 2010

Diesto – High as the Sun

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One of the best bands to ever come out of Portland, Oregon is without a doubt Diesto. Their last album i got from them was the excellent "Isle of Marauder" but "High As The Sun" shows the band progressing at a phenomenal rate, not only in terms of musicianship but also in tighter song-craft. "High As The Sun" is Diesto's masterpiece and the benchmark to where all future albums from the band will be judged. There is six songs on the album ranging from six minutes to eleven minutes and they are great slabs of pure molten Sludge and Doom. The opening track "Beyond The Graves" kicks off with dissonant chords and a swampy thick sound before commencing what can only be described as a kind of Sludge Metal Boogie. Guitarists Chris Dunn and Mark Bassett are a great guitar team, complimenting each other at every little opportunity. The down-tempo riffing is colossal and the vocals which switch between shouting, screams and even some spoken word is not only effective but also creates a threatening atmosphere. There is a brief passage where it heads down the Classic Rock path but the sludge and groove soon returns to kick your ass. "All Eyes upon You" is eleven minutes that sounds simple enough till you realize how much depth there is to the track. Keeping changes to a minimum, the song instead concentrates on pounding you over the head with repeated blows of monolithic doom riffs. Its a song that seems to get heavier the longer it goes on and by the time you get to the twin harmonic guitar lead break, the track reaches a monstrous rock status. What is so cool is while they remain as heavy as hell, they show their love for classic 70's hard rock in every song from melodic touches to twin guitar harmonies. Maybe its the sound of a band returning to their roots or maybe its just the need to experiment or progress, whatever it is, it is perfectly executed. Moving onto the title track, "High As The Sun" mixes melodic dueling guitars and hammering doom riffs. Vocals range from the melodic to the downright scary and the rhythm section of Captain John (bass) and Scott Ulrich (drums) make their presence felt. It seems they have become a integral part of the bands sound now as their playing shines on every track. "Lowlight" sets up a mid-tempo sludge groove with what sounds like a sliding guitar, the atmosphere is varied a little in this track moving to a more psychedelic vibe. The last part of "Lowlight" is very spacey and ambient and thus makes this the odd track out on the album. Still a killer tune in every way but it flows a little awkwardly compared to the rest of the songs. "Waiting for the Fall" is a crushing, twin harmony assault of the eardrums to begin with before it settles down to a more standard doom driven track. After the exciting but dramatic intro to the song, it falls off the rails slightly and loses impact and therefore i rate this as the weakest track on the album. The final track "The Longest Day" takes a while to get going but once it does, its actually one of the best tracks on "High As The Sun". Slow and bludgeoning all the way, its another epic that grabs you by the balls with a intense ethereal vibe. There is more piercing guitar sounds and clearer sounding vocals on this track, most of the album has vocals that are pretty indistinct. Overall, High As The Sun is a great album with a mood that is set in stone during the first song and then gradually built upon from then till the end of the album. Its a little more laid-back compared to their previous work but its also more refined and inspired. The album is for the more experienced listener of doom, slower stoner, or prog/post-metal but fans of YOB, Baroness, Neurosis, Electric Wizard, High On Fire, Cavity and even 70's bands like Thin Lizzy will all get some mileage out of "High As The Sun". 8.5/10

www.myspace.com/diesto

Sorrowful Angels - Ship In Your Trip

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After 10 years or more of being a band, the Greek/Polish Dark, Gothic and Doom Metal act, Sorrowful Angels have released their first album Ship In Your Trip. From the outset, the band sounds very much like Paradise Lost. Not a bad thing in itself but it is a case of "i have heard it all before somewhere" with this album. The vocals of Kostas Katikos not only sounds like the Paradise Lost frontman but even vocal melodies seem to be directly borrowed from the British Doom giants. Having gotten that off my chest, the band is still a worthy addition to your collection of morbid, dark and melancholic Doom Metal bands. The musicianship is excellent throughout and the production plus artwork is great. The songs walk a fine line between classic Doom Metal and commercial Gothic Metal, so much so they could easily fit into any MTV or VH1 video playlist. That might be considered a negative comment depending on where you stand on such issues. Highlights include "Second Life", "Ship In Your Trip" and "Red Sunrise" which is a somewhat different version to Paradise Lost’s "Erase" from the Sign Of Life album. The guitar work is moving, emotional and very diverse for a band in this genre. They also manage to come up with riffs and melodies that actually very catchy for this style of Metal, hence the comment i made before about MTV etc. Guitarist Dion Christodoulatos is a very skilled player and he also lends some vocals to several tracks, maybe its just the growling bits but i am not sure on that point. One interesting element is a slight industrial edge that comes and goes throughout the album, at times sounding like Rammstein, it gives the album a unique flavor but that is where the uniqueness ends unfortunately. Despite some good moments of dark, gloomy metal, most of this is verging on the mainstream but maybe that is what they are after anyway. The recycling of riffs and ideas is just too obvious to ever be considered innovative and the songs themselves a little too commercial to please the average Doom fan. There is of course a market for these type of bands and Sorrowful Of Angels could be huge giving the right marketing. Personally i found this album to be a luke-warm effort from the band. 5/10

Myspace

Sangre Eterna - Amor Vincit Omnia

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My first reaction when i started listening to Sangre Eterna's Amor Vincit Omnia was this is another Cradle Of Filth rip-off but after i delve into the album a little more, i got a totally different impression. This band plays a style that is not really something i would normally enjoy and i still have my doubts but this album is not too bad at all. Best described as Blackened Gothic Metal, this band from Serbia do have a sound of their own even though the actual genre has been played out many times before. While this album is short, the songs have a epic almost Progressive Metal vibe at times. Vocals are all over the place from deep growls to high pitched shrills and everything in-between. Musically they blend melodic and classical elements with Black Metal aggression and Gothic Doom melancholy. The skill level of the musicians is very high with keyboards being the main driving force behind the songs even though there is the odd chugging riff and guitar solo's that wail at times. The solo on "Beautiful Enormity" is a good example of this, it shreds but with a element of class but its all over too soon as the dominating keyboards take over once again. I found this to be a little irritating, i much rather the guitar work to be more prominent. "Ad Vitam Aeternam" is the most original track on the album as it ranges from melodic lush piano to abrasive Black Metal. They use a combination of Serbian and English lyrics on the album which works well despite the fact, i couldn't really get a fix on what the songs are about. There is a enchanting atmosphere about the songs but the weak point is the drumming which is just not technical or interesting and works against the structures of the songs. The album artwork is also bland and a big turn-off but the production is great and powerful. I have real mixed opinions on this album, half the time its good but the other half seems banal and watered down. I would still recommend this album to anyone who likes goth metal but hardcore Black Metal or Doom Metal fans will find this a little grating to the ears. 5/10

Sangre Eterna @ MySpace.com

Feb 22, 2010

The Stranglers: Chapter 1 - V/A

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The Stranglers: Chapter One is a ambitious project from Choking Hazard records, this is the first of what is suppose to be three different double-disc compilations showcasing bands from the doom, drone, sludge underground. The Stranglers: Chapter One has just under two and a half hours of music so its a lot to listen to but there is really no filler material on the entire two discs. Disc one features more well known bands with the opening track coming from UK doomlords Atavist. Its a untitled track that is 20 minutes long, the song had previously appeared on their self-titled album from 2005. The track starts off with some spacious ambiance before the band launches itself into monolithic sludge, it has some melodic guitar in the background but that is pretty much buried under a wall of massive riffing and grunting vocals. Its a slow motion doom-jamming sound that at times sounds a little like Corrupted. Moloch is up next and their entire 2007 demo is included here. This is crusty sludge metal in the style of Iron Monkey, all of the three songs are spewed forth with viscous intent and a dirty groove. Austrasian Goat is next band up with three songs that seem exclusive to this compilation or it seems that way, i haven't found these three tracks anywhere else. Their style is crawling funeral type doom along the same lines as Skepticism and Thergothon, super slow with a guitar sound that reeks of pure misery. There is some droning feedback in the first song "We Are Going Nowhere" but its strangely beautiful and melodic. The next track is even more melodic, it has a folky acoustic guitar before you get bombarded with some fine funeral doom dirge. The third track "Exorcism By Hatred" is the darkest of the three tracks from Austrasian Goat that is made even more bleak by including ominous effects and distorted black metal shrieks. The last band on the first disc is the great Whorehouse Massacre, this one man band delivers the strangest tracks on the compilation. The first track "The Feed" mixes real ancient sounding drum machines, death metal influences, doom riffs, sparse vocals and a massive amount of distortion. The next song they contribute is "East Hastings" and its less weird but no less heavy. It has a brutal chugging riff and industrial sounding drums. The production is very lo-fi but it doesn't weaken the strength of the songs at all. The third track from The Whorehouse Massacre is maybe the best of the three, it kicks off in typical lumbering doom-core fashion before things get a bit psychedelic and the weirdness sets in again. There is spacey effects, soaring melody lines to glide across the top of the death metal type doom dirge. Again sounds are immensely distorted with dissonant guitar chords turning this into a kind of industrial sludge metal. Then you are at the end of disc one and you are more than likely drained and beaten to a pulp by now but throw in disc two and there is more great noise to check out.

Disc two kicks off with a band called Stasis, who delivers three songs from their 2006 "We Are Falling Upwards" demo. It's more than twenty-two minutes of blackened sludge that sounds like Cavity meets Sabbath. The third song from them is "Expression Of Sin" and is a highlight, at times it sounds like a more crusty version of Crowbar with strange guitar harmonies. Next is another one-man band called Feast Of Sins, it is the work of a dude named Roj who handles guitar, bass, drum programming, vocals, samples and there is no shortage of heaviness. Its pretty straightforward, ultra-slow, crushing doom metal but the simple drum machine sounds just didn't cut it with me but its still some good punishing industrial doom from Feast Of Sins. Italian sludge metallers Ghost Empire follow with two tracks that pulverize, take Eyehategod and Acid Bath and give them some black metal attitude and you get Ghost Empire. Heavy with two very distantly different vocalists at work give the song a unique vibe. This is a healthy dose of tortured sludge from these guys. The final band on disc two is Los Angeles trio Welter In Thy Blood. What they deliver is a single fifteen minute song called "Despondent Unto Death". In some ways this is the most extreme track from the two discs, its blackened funeral doom that is incredibly slow but with huge spaces between the chords that give off a feeling of dismal desperation. Similar to the work of bands like Khanate and Nortt, there is long droning sections and some creepy spoken passages. This is a band i will be looking for a lot more from in the future. In conclusion, this is a feast for doom, drone and sludge metal fans everywhere. Its also a great package overall that comes complete with a thick booklet loaded with artist info, lyrics and artwork. Considering the length of the compilation, there will be some weaker moments but they are very rare, this is one of the best compilations put together in recent years. 9/10

www.myspace.com/chokinghazardrecords

Retro Grave - Again

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Retro Grave is the work of Jeff “Oly” Olson who all doom metal fans will know from the highly influential band "Trouble". The album was originally released as a online download last year but now has finally made its way onto CD with a extra track and a extra musician Michael Leonard Maiewski who adds some strings and vocals. If you were expecting another CD in the same vein as Trouble you will be in for a surprise, this is far removed from the traditional doom and classic rock of that band. However "Again" is still fits very much within the doom genre but with a lot of progressive rock song structures and a more experimental approach not heard before from his previous work. I would describe "Again" as "thinking mans doom metal" with (as the band's name suggests) a "retro feel". If you didn't grab yourself a copy of the download last year and don't know what to expect from the album, you will be surprised and blown away from the various sounds and influences on this album. It can go from doom metal that is heavy and apocalyptic to music which is haunting and sometimes strange to the very psychedelic. Keeping with the tradition of doom, the album maintains a dark vibe throughout most of the album especially in the moody, ambient "Entropy" which is a epic musical journey into progressive rock but with a very haunting bleak atmosphere. Being a drummer, Jeff Olson is allowed to stretch himself musically which he does on nearly every track on here. From jazz-tinged drum work to progressive Pink Floydish styled drumming flourishes, the album takes on a lot of experimental leanings. At the other end of the spectrum, you have a track like "Mind March" which has one of the heaviest doom metal riffs you will ever hear but Jeff's vocals adds a very different quality to the music. It has a clear but other-worldly sound about it, very much psychedelic and spacey. Its a album of contrasting styles and sounds that blend to make one of the most original sounding albums ever released in the genre. There is no filler on the album, its well thought-out from start to finish and sounds very inspired by something very much from another world or galaxy. At times, heavy, strange, weird and wonderful, its a intriguing, well rounded album, check it out. 9/10

www.myspace.com/retrogravetunes

Feb 21, 2010

Space Mirrors - Majestic-12: A Hidden Presence

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I must confess when i first got this album as a digital download, i was unaware of who this band was, that was until i got halfway through the first track and it became clear this is partly the work of the great Russian musician Alisa Coral. Alisa Coral is a extremely talented multi-instrumentalist who first attracted attention about 10 years ago when the Neutron Star instrumental album got her noticed in the spacerock world. What got me hooked on that album was the obvious Hawkwind influences and Hawkwind being one of my favorite bands of the 70's meant i was instantly mesmerized by the album. That Hawkwind connection has now been made even stronger as this album, the third from Space Mirrors includes none other than Nik Turner himself. Alisa and her long-time creative partner guitarist Michael Blackman seem to be the main writers for the band along with talented electric violinist Cyndee Lee Rule and vocalist's Martyr Lucifer and Amber. The sound is space rock with healthy doses of Metal blended in, all done to concepts relating to alien visitations, Roswell, Area 51, and UFO conspiracies. Tracks like "Tunguska" are a mixture of Metal, Progressive and Space Rock successfully blended with dual vocals by Alisa and Amber, and Nik Turner on sax. There is heavier tracks like "Roswell-47" and "Dreamland I: Time Warp" that use Martyr Lucifer's growling vocals and Michael Blackman's crunching guitar to full effect. However the music never gets stuck in one gear, it constantly shifts from total space rock and metal to gothic rock sounds to more ambient, relaxing dreamlike vibes. "MJ-12" features a almost funky rhythm along with electronic sounds while Nik Turner plays a kind of jazz-rock sax. "Liars" mixes everything from space rock to death metal and usually that would be a recipe for disaster but here it actually works. "Belgian Wave" uses a brilliant combination of soaring metal guitar breaks and Cyndee Lee Rule's violin and they use the same technique on "Neuschwabenland (Flying Discs in Antarctica" and "Cydonia: Face on Mars". "Krill Report" consists of Nik Turner reading text from the Krill Report, UFO freaks will know what i am talking about. This track features some wailing sax and some mind-shattering electronic sounds and effects. "New World Order" is the most different track on the album with a punk metal guitar attack mixed with strange keyboard melodies and a devilish growl from Martyr Lucifer. This record is a challenging one and one that only space rock/metal enthusiasts will get right into to. But if you are like me and grew up with the space rock sounds of Hawkwind and would like to hear a modern equivalent with a bit more heaviness thrown into the mix, you will dig this. The blending of vocals is amazing and effective, the musicianship is mesmerizing and it is produced and mixed very well indeed. Its in a class of its own as its stylistically all over the place but if you want something to listen to in the extreme metal side of space rock, then you can't go wrong here. 9.5/10

www.myspace.com/spacemirrors

Feb 19, 2010

Krakow - Monolith

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Krakow certainly cover a lot of ground on this debut album, not content with trying to fit in with a certain sub-genre of metal, they take the approach of mixing it up with different styles, sounds and grooves to make this album very hard to put a tag on. This is first full-length after releasing a couple of EP's and a demo back in 2006. They come from Norway and the Euro influences are all there, the deathly vocals and the viking metal sound are all incorporated into their songs. They cover a wide spectrum of sounds and influences from Isis, Earth, Winter, Cathedral, High On Fire, Hellhammer to a more post-rock alternative style! There is also a strong psychedelic vibe to a lot of songs but giving the variation in sound means the vibe changes from one track to the next. You could call it playing it safe or experimenting depending on your point of view. There is great use of use of effect-laden lead guitars, great drumming from Christopher Swahn Zibell and a effective use of the two vocalists, blending clean singing with a deathly growls. Songs like "Art Of Motion" are particularly effective in mixing stoner grooves with psychedelic vibes but the lead guitar work washes over you rather than crushing you. Most of the song structures are very progressive so it isn't what i would call a "doom metal" album but that is the nearest reference point. The twelve minute instrumental title track is outstanding and is very accessible despite the long running time. "Oblivious" takes the listener from the double bass driven sounds of High On Fire to the dirty sludge of Hellhammer all in the one song. The rest of the album is a mixed bag of great and average moments that failed to make a lasting impression on me, nothing bad about any of the songs on here but it is a debut album and it sounds and looks like one, take a look at the album artwork for example. The production is also a little weak and thin, a bit more bottom end into the mix would have helped this album a lot. About two-thirds of this album though contains some pretty impressive songwriting and sounds, the instrumentation is as about as close to flawless as you will get on a debut full length album. The overall impression i got though is this a band still trying to find a direction to go in. They are filed under doom metal by most people even though their Myspace has them as "metal / rock / alternative" which is the more accurate description, don't be fooled though, this album does have some real heavy sounds and at times its very much in the doom metal vein. A band to watch for in the future, it will be interesting to see what direction the band takes next. 7/10

www.myspace.com/krakowband

Feb 18, 2010

Phased - A Sort Of Spasmic Phlegm Induced by Leaden Fumes of Pleasure

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"A Sort Of Spasmic Phlegm Induced by Leaden Fumes of Pleasure" gets my vote for one of the best album titles of all time and this album is pretty damn good as well. The band is called Phased who in its ranks has members from Switzerland, Finland and Sweden making this band a truly multinational group. The album is released on the German psyche, doom label Elektrohasch who has some of the most amazing and varied bands you will ever come across and Phased are no exception. Their sound is a organic mixture of Sabbath, Hawkwind, Nebula to more doom laden stuff like Sleep, there is also a hint of The Melvins and Monster Magnet thrown in for good measure. The band is a very psychedelic one with sounds ranging from fuzzy stoner rock grooves to trippy, psychedelic sound experimentation's. Spasmic Phlegm starts off with what I assume is a Apollo-era mission control radio sample before a classic stoner, groove laden riff kicks in. This sets the tone for the rest of the album but they are at their best when they merge some way out jamming with a precise psyche rock vibe like in "Rim Shot to Infinity" which is about as mind-bending as you can get. With droning riffs that slowly build up pace as the song progresses, with something that sounds like Bongo's but i could be wrong on that and rippling underwater synth noises which i think are provided by Scott Heller of the "Oresund Space Collective" who turns up on a few other tracks on the album. "Nachspiel Revisited I & II" has a "Spine Of God Monster Magnet vibe to it and is more on the ambient side of things. "The Osteopath" throws some humor into the mix, the track is about transforming into some sort of therapeutic doctor or something. "Maelstrom" has pure classic psyche rock written all over it, i wish Nebula were still capable of coming up with songs like this. "I Come Toulouse" adds some extra atmospherics to the album but the album is not short of those at all. The album actually gets more ethereal as it progresses and in some ways heavier too. "Tip of the Sky" is more straight ahead fuzz rock but one thing is for sure, Guitarist/vocalist Chris Sigdell, bassist Chris Walt and drummer Marko Lehtinen follow in the footsteps of other classic power trio bands but to their credit, they know how to write sometimes real catchy songs and they also know how to rock. While the songs seem to be based around unstructured jams, there is also a continuity to the songwriting and performance. One thing has to be said at this point, i have given up trying to find a 100% original band within the stoner/doom genre, lets face it, its all been done before and it will be done again another million times but what is great about Phased and this record is the way its played with undeniable passion and style. Its a easy CD to listen to but at the same time, heavy and extremely trippy. This is music played by psychedelic, stoner, doom fans made for psychedelic, stoner, doom fans and they are proud to admit it, that honesty and integrity comes across on the album. If you have never heard Phased, its about time you did. 8/10

www.myspace.com/phasedphased

Feb 17, 2010

High On Fire - Snakes For The Divine


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I was putting off the review till the official release but seeing as the album has been leaked, the cat is out of the bag so to hell with it. Snakes for the Divine is the sound of High On Fire at their most aggressive best and the glossy production actually pushes the sonic envelope even further. The production was done by courtesy of producer Greg Fidelman, the man responsible for the most recent Metallica and Slayer albums and while this was a worry for some people, it has proven to be a wise move. The sound on this disc is a savage barrage of monumental riffing and Matt Pike is at his roaring, bellowing best on vocals. The album-opening title track is a beast, it kicks off with a riff that sounds like a AC/DC riff on speed before the breakneck thrashy riffing and pummeling drums slammed you up against the wall. Its a relentless approach that never quits throughout the whole song, the vocals are savage and Pike sounds like his axe work has been taking up a level in terms of technical prowess. "Frost Hammer" which has been uploaded on various sites already is a metal pounding, neck snapper. Taking the usual influence from Celtic Frost, a influence the band has always had but High On Fire take it to a new plateau of sonic abrasiveness. "Bastard Samurai" has a un-assuming intro before a almighty sludge / doom riff is unleashed, featuring some dirty low-end sounds coming from the bass, this is some pure heavy. The vocals actually has Matt Pike inserting some raw melody into his guttural bellowing style and there is even some melodic lead breaks blending well with his un-relenting shredding. "Ghost Neck" takes it back to the more typical sludge meets thrash approach which High On Fire are renown for, this is surely the most aggressive album the band has done so far but its not just Pike, the whole band is playing with a energy and passion way beyond anything they have previously recorded. The riffing is also more complex this time around, there is noodling parts blending in perfectly with the pounding riffage and its all super tight. "The Path" is played in pure classic rock style and is short but blends nicely into "Fire, Flood And Plague" which is a mid-tempo bruising track. A stomping drum beat and double kicks keep up the momentum and there is more sizzling Pike guitar solo work but once again, its the riffs and this song has a killer one. "How Dark We Pray" is a 8 minute monolithic track, a slowly building intro section and melodic guitar work takes the listener to a place you don't hear usually on a High On Fire album. There is a certain moodiness to the song and the jaunty harmonics that are spread throughout this song and the entire CD may surprise some people. The track switches gears between wailing melodies and thrashy sections that build up to a epic thrashy crescendo. "Holy Flames Of The Fire Spitter" takes the album back to where it started, no holds barred sludge, thrashy goodness. The conclusion i reached with this album is this is their most accomplished piece of work thus far, there will be the usual people that will find the production too polished but really that is a kind of a pathetic viewpoint. This is the album that will for good or bad take the band to the next level of acceptance in the metal community which is fickle at the best of times. It is certainly not a sell out in any form, it is the sound of a band stretching themselves and pushing themselves to a new level of musicianship. This album will be huge in a month or two and is sure to be on top of everyone's play-lists. Their most varied release to date, the most well played and produced. The line-up of Matt Pike-guitars, vocals/, Des Kensel-drums and Jeff Matz on bass must be happy with this album, it continues to blow me away daily. 8.5/10.

www.myspace.com/highonfire

Feb 16, 2010

Blood of the Tyrant - Blood of the Tyrant

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Chicago's Blood of the Tyrant have released a impressive EP here that will appeal to a wide range of metal heads, stoner rockers and even some indie rock fans might something to get their rocks off to with the 4 songs on display here. The band's sound has a striking similarity to Mastodon but there is also sounds and grooves that have a punk/metal crossover sound like Corrosion Of Conformity but with a more progressive rock edge. Influences aside, they still have their own sound especially when it comes to putting together their songs with interesting arrangements. "Flaw of the Sentient Being" hits you right between the eyes and ears with some heavy duty but melodic guitar riffing while a second guitar provides some strong harmonies. The band don't stick to the obvious however especially when Josh Primack makes his appearance on vocals, he has a sound you don't really expect to hear within the framework of the song. He sounds downright menacing at times, verging on pure evil. When the song gets a boost in tempo towards the end of the track, it is nothing short of a metallic onslaught. "The Gunslinger" slows things a little with a kind of a "Clutch" like groove before once again the guitar duo of Primack and Galaboff take the song to a whole other level. Things change again with the third "Helena", this tune has a more progressive bluesy sound interspersed with grooves sounding a little bit like "Baroness" but without the indie influences that plagues a lot of that band's sound. "Helena" is a showcase for the band's instrumental abilties leaving the vocals to make a appearance only when the song really needs it. Chris Avgerin must also get some kudos for some excellent drum work, his playing is top-notch throughout the entire EP. "Helena" is over 10 minutes long but the expansive arrangement makes it a very easy listen with the right combination of vocal attack and instrumental workouts. The final track is a instrumental piece titled "Meteors (Extinction)" and it is a fitting ending to the EP which plays out more like a full-length album with its 31 minute running time. Its hard to put a tag on a band like this with so many varied musical styles all interwoven into the one band, they cross prog-metal and sludgy doom but do it with the intensity of a balls and all metal band complete with roaring metal vocals. They have some killer riffs but with some real surprises in the arrangement department. A very interesting band that should have a big future in front of them, check them out. 9/10

BotT @Myspace

Feb 15, 2010

Church Of Misery - Live At Roadburn 2009

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Church Of Misery, those crazed serial murderer obsessed doom sludge maniacs have finally come out with their first live CD and it was recorded live at Roadburn in 2009. This is a essential purchase for all fans of the band as well as doom maniacs everywhere because not only is the sound and production great but the set-list on display here is equally as impressive. Here you get selections from Master of Brutality, The Second Coming, Houses of the Unholy and "Taste The Pain" from the Early Works Compilation. Church of Misery holds the distinction of being one of the first doom metal bands to emerge from Japan. Formed during the late ‘90s and influenced by the usual suspects (Black Sabbath, Kyuss, St. Vitus, etc.), Church of Misery was originally comprised of members Yoshiakki Negishi (vocals), Tomohiro Nishimura (guitar), Tatsu Mikami (bass), and Hideki Shimizu (drums). It was this line-up that issued a pair of independent EP's – 1998's Taste the Pain and 1999's Murder Company – before Negishi was replaced with Nobukazu Chow. The Chow-led line-up debuted on their very first full-length album in 2001, Master of Brutality. Since then they have established themselves as one of the leaders in heavy, no-holds barred dirty sounding sludge metal. Musically while they have remained in the more sludge side of the doom metal spectrum and the lyrics have always been about serial killers, some bands have also been doing this but Church Of Misery have managed to keep this approach fresh while other bands have become tedious. When Tom Sutton joined the band in the later half of the last decade, they took on a even more brutal sound and became tighter and more focused than ever before. This live album is a perfect documentation of the band in action and being recorded so well, it puts you in the front row or at least that is what it feels like when listening to this album. Most of you would know most if not all the songs but if not, they follow the Sabbath blueprint of down-tuned sludged-filled grooves but rather than blindly copying the Iommi / Butler riffs, Church Of Misery take it to the next level of brutality. The bass playing of Tatsu Mikami and drumming of Junji Narita come through the mix loud and thick while Tom Sutton's guitar work cuts over the top of the sound making this a explosive live recording. Highlights include "I, Motherfucker", Shotgun Boogie and Killfornia but the whole album is the band at their ear-shattering best. The show was recorded on multi-track and was mixed and mastered by Marcel van de Vondervoort from Torture Garden Studio. He was also at the helm for the Wolves In The Throne Room live album. After releases by Wolves In The Throne Room (2008) and Year Of No Light (2008), Church of Misery - Live At Roadburn 2009 will be the third installment in the Roadburn live series. If you have never seen the band live then this the next best thing, even better than the live DVD's that are available which don't have in my opinion the sound that this CD has. Those DVD's are good from a visual perspective but the sound isn't as crushing as this live CD album. Highly recommend this one. 9/10.

www.myspace.com/churchofserialkiller

Feb 12, 2010

Khanate - Clean Hands Go Foul

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I know this album is now over a year old but i recently bought the digipak version of the album which comes with a bonus DVD named "Capture & Release". This has pushed me to do this review as a tribute to one of the greatest, most underrated bands that should have never split up. I am still mourning the loss of this band, the world of droning doom will never be the same. Khanate was a more or less a extreme doom metal supergroup that brought together James Plotkin and Alan Dubin, two members of the defunct band OLD, as well as Tim Wyskida (of Blind Idiot God and Manbyrd) and Stephen O'Malley (of Burning Witch and Sunn O))) fame). Formed in 2000 they released 3 ear-shattering albums that sounded like a concrete mixer churning out some of the most destructive doom dirges ever recorded. On September 24 2006, Khanate was split up, with Plotkin stating that the "lack of commitment from certain members" led to the split but he promised one more recording from the band that finally surfaced in January 2009 called "Clean Hands Go Foul". There was talk of a reunion but it never happen which left a lot of hardcore fans bitterly disappointed. Khanate were always one of the most extreme bands in doom with disjointed distorted riffing and psychotic sounding vocals backed up with one the most filthy bass sounds ever created. This the final release from the band sees the band in a more ambient mood but no less damaging to your senses. There is still the droning riffs and weird timings that Khanate are famous for but there is also a even more experimental approach especially in the final track "Every God Damn Thing". This 33 minute epic is a deal breaker in terms of listening pleasure is concerned. Extremely hard to sit through this one especially considering when the first 10 minutes the song really goes nowhere. It is based around noises rather than a actual band playing and the vocals are whispered at times to the point where you can hardly hear them at all. At other times there is screams but they sound miles away from the rest of the band, again making them seem distant from the actual piece of music. This is a track that can turned people off from a band like Khanate so its a good thing that its the last track on the album. Its also fitting that its the final track because it literally sounds like a band dying, running out of ideas and in turn that is maybe what exactly happened. "Wings from Spine" is beautiful in a disturbing way, it is the most "normal" sounding song Khanate ever recorded and is also very short which is very unusual for this band. It still has a lot of the Khanate trademarks, deep bass drones and Dubin letting loose with his signature screeching vocals. There is dissonant minor chords and the use of controlled feedback. "In That Corner" continues on in a similar vein and if the hairs don't stand up on the back of your neck while listening to this, then you must be dead. The other track on here is "Clean My Heart" and this is typical Khanate, extremely doom-laden, this track is right up there with older classics like "Skin Coat" and "Pieces of Quiet". That leads in the final epic track and that is where the album falls apart. I have always been a huge fan of Alan Dubin’s vocals and he is in great form on "Clean Hands Go Foul". He clearly has one of the most disturbing voices in doom and drone, he can be chilling, frightening, intense and morbid all at the same time. Steven O’Malley is a master of getting different sound textures out of his instrument and avoiding nearly all the usual doom cliches. Rather than focusing on crushing riffs, he blends atonality, feedback, and drone to create a wall of scary atmosphere. The bass and drums are also unique, while the bass is droning, the drums are based around cacophonous sounds avoiding the need for beats etc. They add certain dynamics to the sound and work as a perfect backbone to Dubin's and O'Malley's crazed experimental doom dirges. As i write this, i am struck by the fact that i can't see any band replacing Khanate. They were a one of the kind even though there is many bands around now copying their style with various degrees of success. "Clean Hands Go Foul" was a good way for Khanate to go out despite the final track which i have to admit is pretty boring. Its a great piece of unsettling doom history that will be remember in all its sick, demented glory. The bonus DVD contains the brilliantly disturbing video for "Dead" and 4 live tracks and is essential viewing. 8/10

Myspace Fan Page

Feb 11, 2010

Crowned By Fire - Prone To Destroy

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Tagged as a southern / stoner metal by some people, doom metal even by others but these dudes from Los Angeles are much more varied than that. They cross over so many different styles on this, their soon to be released full length debut "Prone To Destroy". Formed in early 2006 by vocalist John “The Impaler” Fitterer, guitarist Justin Manning, bass player Jason "Dread" Boccia and drummer JR Crampton Crowned By Fire has slowly built its reputation by doing killer intense live performances. The new album comes charging at you with the opening track "I Spit On Your Curse", a intense blur of a riff is the backbone of the song along with the double kicks coming from the drums. This is traditional metal played loud and dirty and the guitar solo is shredding, it is a infectious piece of anthemic metal right up to the fade out. "Witch In The Window" is a crunching hunk of old school heavy metal that sounds like Metallica blending with Black Label Society playing doom complete with Randy Rhodes styled guitar squeals. The song features another mind-melting guitar solo played at a accelerated pace. The vocal harmony parts hark bark to early Seattle grunge days but its much darker than anything to come out of that flannel shirt scene. The odd track out on the album comes in the form of a cover of Blue Oyster Cult's Burnin For You. A strange choice for a cover giving the content of the rest of the album but they do a version that puts the original to shame. I always have thought Burnin For You was one of B.O.C's most average songs but they bring the song up to a higher level of swaggering groove. "Get Under The Dirt" has a Sabbath meets Ozzy kind of vibe, like most tunes on the album this is a very catchy with one of those riffs that is instantly recognizable while sounding like nothing else, another great guitar solo is included to cap off a fine track. "Black Moon Shine" is a monster of a track from its haunting intro, the building Sabbath inspired riff to the very Alice In Chains sounding vocal harmonies. The song is beautifully constructed and is a big highlight on the album. "I Am The Crime" is one of the faster paced tracks on the album, played at a neck-snapping tempo for most of the song. "Vulture With A Rifle" may have the heaviest riff on the album, its angry and a snarling track with another explosive guitar solo and pummeling drums that beat you into submission. These are just some of the immediate highlights of what is a very complete piece of work. The production is top-shelf quality, the songwriting is in the pure classic vein of heavy metal, the vocals are one of the bands strong points and the lyrics are excellent. All the songs are irresistibly catchy and the blending of everything from old school metal, grunge to sludge and doom is done to perfection. Its hard to find anything not to like about "Prone To Destroy", it maybe on the generic side of metal but because of the quality of the riffing, vocals and classic in your face arrangements it gives the album a timeless quality. The entire band is on fire and i don't know how much this band rehearses but it sounds like they have worked hard to perfect their sound. This is tight, precise and extremely well executed metal that even the masses might pick up on. The band went all the way to Italy to record and master the album and maybe that is why it has such a fresh production sound, i can't explain that one. With a sound that ranges from Sabbath, Kyuss, Down, Alice In Chains, Motorhead to Corrosion Of Conformity, Crowned In Fire have thrown a pretty wide net to create a album that could and should please a lot of metal fans out there. This is also a album that while new has the ability to become a old friend very quickly. Hurry up and release it dudes. 9/10

www.myspace.com/crownedbyfire

Feb 10, 2010

Sardonis - S/T

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Sardonis, the Belgian two piece comprising of guitarist Roel Paulusse and drummer Jelle Stevens created a stir in the doom, sludge community when they released their powerhouse of a EP back in 2008. It was a tour de force of relentless head - banging tempos and sonic riffing. The fuzz level on the EP was so intense that it made one of the powerful debuts of its kind. Well finally the full length album is almost here and it has exceeded exceptions and more to the point affirmed their position as the new instrumental riff masters. Being a instrumental band means the actual music has to be exceptional and it is in every brain shattering way possible. With Sardonis its all about laying down the biggest fuzz laden groove they can find and this album is back to back, a wall of sonic riff worship. Its soon to be released on MeteorCity and it has to be one of the finest albums to ever grace that labels discography. What is so brilliant is the lack of a vocalist or bassist goes completely unnoticed as you are flattened by the sheer weight of the guitar riff themselves. So heavy and fuzzy that the absence of a bass player is no issue at all and having no vocalist means nothing in a band as good as this when you are getting washed away by the tsunami of killer riffs and hook lines. The album starts with two songs previously released on the EP - "Nero De Avola", starting like the musical equivalent of musical thunderstorm that's brewing, it slowly builds a doomed atmosphere complete with a tolling bell sound. The closest thing to Sabbath on the whole album, Iommi himself would be proud of the tension build- up in this song. "Skullcrusher AD" is released from its cage once again for the next track and is a brief but pulverizing sludge-fest. "Ab Incunabulus" switches gears between doom and high-powered mid-tempo sonic excesses, the guitar breaks have a haunting eerie sound and the tune never loses its tension throughout. "Thor" sounds like a bit like a High On Fire tune but where as Pike has a loose riffing style, here Paulussen nails the riff in a precise way. "The Hollow" kicks off with a mind-bending riff interspersed with pummeling drum parts before slowing down to a almost drone-doom section. Its so heavy that if they did have a bass player it might be all too much to take, it leaves you with the feeling off being ran over by a herd of rhinos. "March Of The Masses" has a apocalyptic intro that is droning and ambient before being once again bombarded by more yet another killer riff, like twisting a knife your brain, this is pure sludge rock power at its finest. The way Sardonis diversifies their riffs and chords is the bands strong-point and this track has more twists and turns than most bands deliver on a entire album. "More Severe Things Await" is a acoustic based interlude and you will need one of these by now, a great melodic, haunting track but that peace is shattered by the next track "The Wolfs Lair". This mid-tempo crusher has a crushing riff, another riff that is pure chaos amplified and more random switches in tempo and groove. This brings you to the closer "It Walks The Mountain" with a haunting intro that is cold and bleak. The song builds in Sabbath-like intensity and the arrangement is executed in a manner that could come from the stoner-doom text book but Sardonis sound like they are adding another chapter to that book with songs like these. The duo work incredibly well together, Roel Paulussen (also of Solenoid) is a master riff maniac who is not only tight but really has a musical vision from beyond the average guitarist in the scene. Drummer Jelle Stevens is what gives the band its full sound, smashing his drum-kit around but doing it with a kind of class of finesse not usually found in a style of music like this that is so unrelenting and sonically punishing. There seems to be millions of one and two man bands around these days but most of those bands come off sound empty and thin sounding. Sardonis are the complete opposite of that. They have a wall of sound that leaves you crushed, this is pure riff worship made for people that need riffs and lots of them. To say they have perfected their sound and style would be a understatement, this is a perfectly executed chunk of instrumental stoner, sludge, doom metal that will push a lot of other instrumental groups back to the drawing board. The only aspect of this album stopping me from giving it a 10 rating is the re-doing of tracks from the EP, i would have like to have heard some new stuff but that is a minor complaint, they have delivered the goods with a monster of a album that has just raised the benchmark for everyone. 9.5/10

www.myspace.com/sardonis666

Feb 9, 2010

Kongh - Shadows of the shapeless

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Shadows Of The Shapeless is the second album from Kongh after a demo released two years after they started in 2004, their debut Counting Heartbeats from 2007 and a split-LP with Ocean Chief one year later where they unleashed a twenty-four minute crusher. This shows the band has some giant steps forward as this album is far superior to anything they have previously recorded. The band blends different styles from doom, sludge, post metal, psychedelia, hard rock to ambient to create something that is truly their own sound. The influences are varied but you can hear traces of Electric Wizard, Toadliquor, Neurosis, Melvins, Burning Witch, Katatonia, High On Fire, Motorhead, Minsk and of course Black Sabbath. Not wasting any time in destroying your eardrums, the opening track "Unholy Water" is a 11 minute downtuned doom burner that builds from start to finish with aggressive parts mixing in well with almost unexpected melody lines courtesy of the vocals. With this band its all about atmosphere and "Unholy Water" takes you to a cold and barren landscape. There is a chilling guitar solo at about the halfway point into the song before you are bombarded by more heavy riffing in the vein of High On Fire. "Unholy Water" is one of those classic moments in sludge and doom that leaves you already so satisfied musically that listening to the rest of the album almost seems unnecessary. Next track up is the Sabbath inspired riffing of "Essence Asunder", here guitarist David Johansson sets up a clean but brutally heavy groove that is complimented by some bluesy breaks. This track has it all within its 15 or so minutes from some thick bass sounds, screaming vocal parts to some bizarre off-key guitar noise sections that could be coming from Rwake or Neurosis. After this track, a little rest is needed and you kind of get with the next track "Tank Pa Doden". Its short and melodic and is a perfect interlude to this intense album. Next up is "Voice of the Below" which reins in all the styles already heard on the album and condenses them into one sonic piece of music. The track that sounds like a bastard child created by mixing Yob and High On Fire together is pure power. Taking the very best essence of doom and throwing a hint of the finest black metal, the track is full of sweet Sabbath styled melody lines also making this one hell of a colorful piece of music. This rates as the best track along with "Unholy Water". The album ends with a 16 minute monster "Shadows of the Shapeless" which features more melodic guitar work mixed in with blackened doom and the result is nothing short of magical. There is times when you think of the apocalyptic sludge of Burning Witch and other times where bands like Agalloch come to mind, so varied is their approach and they deserve some huge praise in making this all work so well. Vocals range from black metal rasping to howling but you haven't anything till you get the ending of the song which is a crescendo to kill for. The song is a staggering piece of work and is solid proof that doom can indeed be innovative. The uncompromising approach boosted by the powerful production makes this another essential release for 2010 even though it was released last year but near enough. "Shadows Of The Shapeless" has enough experimentation but also enough straight up doom sections to please a wide variety of listeners so there is no reason why this cant appeal to a lot of people out there. I had mixed feelings about Kongh but now all that has changed, this is a tantalizing, exciting album and the excellent artwork just enhances the whole experience of listening to this masterpiece. Who knows how the band will follow this because this is pure gold, if you like extreme sludge and doom with plenty of unexpected twists and turns, buy this. 10/10

www.myspace.com/kongh

Shadow of the Torturer - Marching into Chaos

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Crushing doom from the northwest, this limited edition album released on vinyl may already be sold out so you may have to hunt down a download to hear this but you can trust me, it will be worth your time, this is brutal. Formed by ex-Aldebaran front-man Mike Brown, the 33 minutes of chaotic sludge on this disc is some of the heaviest, most bleakest doom around. All doom should be this heavy, seething with hate the band is similar to bands like Burning Witch, Grief etc. The sound is thick and they have some of the most truly frightening dual vocals ever recorded. Fans of Hooded Menace will dig the horror filled growling. Is it possible to be catchy when you are playing so slowly, well Shadow Of The Torturer are very catchy that but maybe that is just my warped mind playing tricks on me but i find this album to be infectious in a sick kind of way. There is one short track of squealing, screeching noise that at times sounds like wounded seagulls and three other filth ridden dirges of a normal length. Each of those are of a equally high standard but they are over-shadowed by a 18 minute journey into controlled madness with a track called "Unbeknowist To All". This track is some real scary stuff, crawling for its entire length, the track reaches new heights of tension filled, down-tuned epic greatness. Simple but killer riffs backed with drums that are solid and dynamic and the production is clean enough to display all the nuances to make the track as crushing as possible. The vocals which are a kind of gargle drowning in mucus fit the sound perfectly. This is one of those albums where the compositional subtleties may go unnoticed but there is a lot to discover within the songs on the album. At just 33 minutes it is all over very quickly but that just makes you go back and listen to it again and again. I should point out that there was some kind of rumor that the band had split but according to my sources, this is not true and in fact they are going to be releasing a much longer full length album very soon. This is must hear, a must download, do whatever you can to check out this album. This band will be on your play-list's for a long time to come. 10/10

Shadow of the Torturer @ MySpace

Feb 8, 2010

Tortured Spirit - Arkham Sanitarium

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Its been two years since Tortured Spirit released their last album called "The Mentally Ill", that was a good album but not exactly inspiring. This new album sees a improvement in all areas of the bands songwriting and performance. Once again the band have worked with John Brenner (Revelation, Against Nature) and has released it on his Bland Hand Records label. The band still has that Maryland doom and 70's rock influence but they seemed to have perfected that style just a little more. The first big improvement is in Oddy's vocal performance because he has now found his own style giving the band a more unique sound. The uniqueness comes in mainly two ways, first of all its in the guitar solo's which are like in a world of their own, almost like they are not in tune with the rest of the band but somehow they still fit in with the songs, this gives the songs a other-worldly effect at times, almost dis-jointed but still a major part of the songs arrangements. The other feature which makes this band a bit different from the usual doom band is in songs like "Under Abbie Prinn’s house" and "Horror Crept in" which sound very much influenced by bands like Coven and Black Widow. Those songs have a very 70's occult rock vibe. The vocals although they have improved a lot are still a acquired taste especially in the opening track "Dagons Children" but they grow on you very quickly. His unique vocal style has a vibe of a madman but they work well to express the lyrical concept which is based on H.P. Lovecraft. "Dagons Children" is a odd way to start the album and is probably the weakest track on the whole album but things only get much better from here. The strongest tracks seem to be the ones where they really embraced the 70's horror vibe which is in songs like "Arkham Sanitarium", "Walking the Wind" and "The Isle", the band deliver a almost progressive rock meets doom metal style in these songs. "The Isle" is a 13 minute epic that closes the album that has some fine riffing, spacey keyboard parts and some good old Sabbath type doom metal all in the one track. This song never gets boring throughout the 13 minutes and it has a atmosphere that keeps your attention. It should also be noted that John Brenner plays lead guitar on three tracks. The album is varied and has a lot of different dynamics but its not perfect, there is a few moments where they seem to lose their power within in the songs but those moments are rare. This is a band that keeps on getting better all the time so the next album could be a classic, for now this is a fine album available on CD or free download from http://www.againstnature.us/BH/T_Spirit/index4.htm. It should also be noted the production has been improved since their last album, "Arkham Sanitarium" sounds like a vintage 70's release at times but without sounding too thin like most records from that era. I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy of this as soon as you can and check it out. 9/10

Tortured Spirit @ Myspace

Feb 7, 2010

Ava Inferi - Blood of Bacchus

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Hailing from Portugal, it may come as a surprise to know that Ava Inferi features former Mayhem guitarist Blasphemer. Don’t expect "Blood Of Bacchus" to sound anything like Mayhem though because the two are simply a world apart. This is their third album and it is a logical continuation from their previous album "The Silhouette". Nothing really has changed expect the songs are longer this time around, the vocals of Carmen Susana Simoes are much better and the sound is a little less gothic than before. It's still dark and solemn straight metal with a heavy doom atmosphere with operatic vocals that are more darker, colder and emotion-less despite her occasional screams. Even though there is nine songs on the album, it plays out as one long piece of music with all the songs blending into one another in a well constructed manner. "Blood Of Bacchus" is the band's most complex album to date despite at times the songs can be very barren, there is no big effects, no keyboards, no orchestration and times you will hear a lonely cello or piano making the overall mood seem very intensely cold. It's that mixture between the complex and the simple that gives the album the little strength it has and some thought has gone into the arrangement of the songs. Us reviewers always like to put tags on bands because sometimes that is the only approach to describing some albums. This is album is a bit different, it is closer to "gothic doom" that any other sub-genre of doom metal but at times it strays away from both forms of metal. The gothic side of the album shines on tracks like "Last Sign of Summer" and "Colors of the Dark" but at the same time this is where the band sounds the most typical of bands in this genres. Not surprises here, just two tracks that simply recycle a style that has already been done to death. Elsewhere there is much better songs to feast on like the extensive "Appeler Les Loups" which showcases the thematic angle of the band. It has a haunting atmosphere but suffers badly with a flaw that occurs on most of the tracks on the album and that is there is no climax to the songs even though the tracks are crying out for some sort of climatic ending. The songs tend to fall flat at times. Not that is all bad, from the piano-driven final track "Memoirs" to the title track which verges on the hysterical. Then there is capella duet with Garm of Ulver fame on Black Wings, the ominous bass sound on "Be Damned" and "Tempestade" which uses some type of Portuguese guitar and the Portuguese language to create a kind of folksy vibe. The real star of the band is vocalist Carmen Simoes who puts in a stirring performance pushing her voice from quiet and breathy alto to operatic soprano. "Blood Of Bacchus" has some great moments and has its fair share of pure heaviness and gloomy atmosphere but still doesn't sound as good as their debut which kind of tells me they are not really progressing. I still think they have a long way to go however but i am sure many will disagree. 5/10

Ava Inferi @ MySpace

Dark Theory - Every Kind Of Filth / Digust For Humanity

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Dark Theory from the UK on the surface appear to be just another black metal band but once you immersed yourself into the sounds of these two albums, you find a very different kind of beast. First a little bit of history on the band. The band formed in September 2006 as a regular 4-piece with a more alternative metal and metalcore influence before a series of line-up changes saw them heading in different directions and taking on a more experimental sound. The first change saw the band taking on a more thrash meets doom sound on the 5 track CD named "First Blood". They made a second album which i don't know anything about but i have read it expanded on the black / doom sound even more. The third CD "Every Kind of Filth" which is what i will review here first takes the experimental black doom sound even further. Its refreshing to hear this approach they have taking with this album, they blend black, death, grind, doom and industrial sounds making this a very unique but also a very sick sounding album. Check out the track "Humanity", you can hear this monster unleashed on their Myspace site. With a fuzzed out guitar shredding and whirlwind drums with demented black metal snarling vocals, this is very disturbing music and i dig it. "The Revival" is more twisted black industrial sounds, some of the riff, timing changes are beyond strange but somehow it all fits. In a music world where most black metal all sounds the same, Dark Theory must be applauded for having the balls to even think of such twisted arrangements. There is other way out tracks like "Hollowed Out" and "Behind The Curtain" where the sounds created will leave sickened but in a good way. The ten tracks on the album all stand up very well and its all very intriguing stuff. The production is very much in the pure demo realm but its very listenable at the same time. I must make a mention of the vocals which are some of the sickest, most guttural i have heard in a long time.

The other CD is called "Disgust For Humanity" and its even sicker, more disturbing and even more experimental. It is has to be the work of some crazed psycho because this is some of the most unusual noise ever made by anyone within the genre of black metal. Some people will not take this seriously which is a shame because the thought that has gone into some of these demented tunes are amazing. "A Vampires Lust" is one of the highlights, like a dark trip into the mind of one very disturbed animal that may or may not be human. This is a piece of music that will make your skin crawl, this sounds like some drug-induced version of black noise, at times its ambient and at other times a sonic barrage of threatening sounds. "Sounds Of A Paranoid Mind" is one of the most brilliant tracks i have ever heard but trying to describe the music agony is almost impossible. "Hateful Eternity" is more dementia, you may ask yourself what the hell is going on while you are listening to this, this is one big mind-fuck! On December 12th the band added Callum Wilkinson on lead guitar and backing vocals, Olivia Kennet on rhythm guitar and backing vocals and Ben Cooper on drums. The band is rounded of with the Ryan who handles bass, vocal and keyboard duties. I hope this completed line-up means we will hear a lot more from this band. This is not much else that comes close to this in the black metal world and i don't even know if this should be called black metal, its far too experimental to simply get lumbered with that tag. This is sonic, industrial, experimental black doom that could be something black metal kids might listen to if they started up rave parties. Not that you would want to dance to this stuff, this is music to take drugs to, sit in a dark room and be very disturbed. Its very un-settling music but also highly intelligent and the cheap production sounds don't hurt the overall vibe, it anything it just makes it even more disturbing. Out of the two albums "Disgust For Humanity" seems the stronger of the two but both albums are essential listening if you have a taste for the macabre. Both albums rate 9/10.

www.myspace.com/darktheoryband

Feb 5, 2010

Leeches Of Lore - S/T

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This album by duo Steve Hammond - Vocals / Guitar and Andy Lutz - Drums, also know as Leeches Of Lore has been hanging around my house for months now waiting to be reviewed. I have been dreading doing it because how the hell do you describe a band like this that is so damn all over the place. Somehow these crazy dude's from Albuquerque managed to blend stoner rock, thrash metal, psychedelia, country, surf music, grunge, flamenco and oddball pop music. To make things even more off the wall, the lyrical, vocal angle of the music is a kind of comedic silliness that could be compared with Ween. So why the hell review it in the first place?, it doesn't fit into any of the genres i normally cover here but there is still plenty of the elements within their songs. This is a album that some people will love but others will find downright annoying, i fit in the middle of those two groups of people. Sitting on the fence maybe, but i still cant get a grip on what they are trying to achieve with this CD. On Myspace they describe themselves as minimalist / experimental / thrash and a large chunk of the album could be described in that way but there are so many quirky twists and turns along the way. The album begins with a chant of the bands name before launching into "Macrochelys Temminckii" which is halfway between garage rock and bay-area thrash metal. The vocals sound a little like Jack White, high-pitched for the most part. "I Am The Raptor" starts off like early Metallica and then for the next 9 minutes you get everything from feedback noise to melancholic acoustic guitar to surf-guitar instrumental music to space rock before returning back to thrash metal. Confusing musically but never boring, the band knows how to keep you guessing as to what they are going to do next. The amount of work that must have gone into a song like "Cenozoic Death Waltz" is mind-blowing, here they mix crooning with some 70's inspired rock but they make it sound a little strange by layering a single note riff on top of acoustics. Not many bands could get away with it but here Leeches Of Lore not only succeed but make it one of the best tracks on the album. The title track "Leeches of Lore" is dark comedy fused with a lot of heavy parts but it goes on for at least 3 minutes too long for my tastes. The last minute and a half is pretty much just feedback. "Pig Scrapings" is a good dose of energy filled desert rock and "Black Cognac" echoes the sounds of The Melvins. This track is maybe the most "normal" track on the album and it comes at a time when something a little normal is a relief. "The Champion Breeder" sounds like they employed one of the chipmunks to come in a do a vocal for the intro but the song gets way better from then on. "Dance Of The Fairy At The Springtime Witching" has a acoustic intro before the driving riff takes control and is a decent track. There is a couple more tunes on the album but i find them instantly forgettable. Impossible to pigeon-hole and put a tag on, Leeches Of Lore have made a very unique album but if this is a style that has any future remains to be seen. This reeks of a novelty record although it is obvious the band takes the music very seriously indeed. People with eccentric tastes in music will love it but the more traditional music fan may be left scratching his or her head trying to make sense of it all. I highly recommend everyone check this album out, it is bizarre to a point but something very unique. I can't think of another band that sounds anything like this except maybe if Ween played metal they might come close, check out these loons as soon as you can. 8/10

Leeches of Lore @ MySpace

Feb 4, 2010

Apostle Of Solitude - Last Sunrise

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One of the most eagerly awaited albums of 2010 would have to be Apostle Of Solitude's "Last Sunrise". They produced one of the all great doom albums ever in 2008 with "Sincerest Misery" so this album was always going to be a difficult follow up, so how does it compare? Can it match the downright misery and raw emotional on "Sincerest Misery"? Well after some 20 spins of the disc i have to say the answer is no but man it comes close. First thing i have to get out of the way is the absolute horrible choice for a album cover, not that its that important but its always a unsettling feeling you get to see a band of this quality choose something so banal but that is just my opinion. For those who have never heard the band and that should be a crime, they play pretty much in the traditional doom metal style, similar to the works of Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, St. Vitus, and The Obsessed, they ever have a cover version of the song "Streetside" on the North American version of the album. They cover the usual doom subject matter like grief, depression and despair but they do it with a sense of class, you always get the feeling the band has been through the emotions they are writing about. The album starts off with three un-eventful tracks however, not they are bad, far from it but it sounds the band is going through the motions before unleashing the pure doom gold. "Last Sunrise (Requiem), "Acknowledging The Demon" and "Other Voices" come off sounding like mood setters for the rest of the album but its when you get to track four and beyond that the album really unleashes its classic material. "Letting Go Of The Wheel" starts off quietly enough but by the time you get through the 9 minutes of this harrowing song, it leaves you floored, its intensely heavy. "Hunter Sick Rapture" is a mid-tempo pulverizer and "Sister Cruel" is a masterpiece of doom metal craftsmanship with the perfect timing of guitar, vocal and drum accents to make everything just that bit more dramatic. "December Drives Me to Tears" drowns itself in melancholy with a piano section that is perfectly placed within the arrangement and yet ends with some of the heaviest sounds the band has ever made. "Frontiers of Pain" is the high-point of the album, it begins with a killer heavy riff before changing gears into some awesome chugging rhythms. Throughout the whole album, the bass playing and sound is exceptional but it really stands out on "Frontiers Of Pain". Simply put this track is one of the highlights of the band's career thus far and one you will go back and listen to again and again. The final track is called "Coldest Love" and its one of the best doom metal tracks you will ever hear. The raw emotional that the band and partially Chuck’s vocals dished out on this track is both inspiring as much as it is emotionally draining. So there you have it, overall its a patchy effort compared with "Sincerest Misery" but then again, how can you follow up such a masterpiece. The album has a slow, predictable beginning, a great middle and a mind-blowing ending. The musicianship is of course excellent and the production is again top shelf stuff, pity about the average album cover though. If you judge the album by its own merits, its a very good album indeed but listen to this album and "Sincerest Misery" and you will spot the weaknesses. There is not as much variation as the previous effort from Apostle Of Solitude but it is still a solid album. 8/10

www.myspace.com/apostleofsolitude

Deathbeds - No Funeral 7 "

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Deathbeds from Philadelphia have one of the most entertaining bio write-ups on their Myspace site, so extreme it can't possibly be true but i kind of hope it is because that might explain why this band is so off the rails. They have released this 7" on the Young Lungs label but its also available as a free download, make sure and check their site for details. "No Funeral' was recorded in the summer of 2009 at Red Planet Studios and was co-engineered by Joe Smiley and Chris Grigg. The EP contains three tracks, all of which are guaranteed to rip your head off with a sound thicker than your fat aunt's hips. The band play heavy duty sludge/doom rock with a sound that blends the sound of everyone from Iron Monkey, Cathedral, Sourvein to early Entombed. One thing that is clear from the opening track "No Funeral" is the band is beyond heavy but has a incredibly catchy groove. "No Funeral" is a mid-tempo burner that stomps its way through 3 short minutes and is catchy just as much as it is a neck-snapping bone-crunching exercise in dirty sludge metal. The guitar's and bass sound's are thick but clear, drums pound in a energetic but tight style. The vocals are pure beef with a bellowing almost death metal sound and it compliments the riffing perfectly. Deathbeds don't mess around, they keep songs short and to the point, they make their statement and leave you searching for that repeat button. "Eighteen Hundred and Froze To Death" kicks off with a traditional doom riff, slowly grinding with slothful fuzziness. The vocals range from sick, tormented screams to bellowing and groaning. There is a fine balance between out and out brutality and a traditional riffing style making a blend that is undeniably infectious but still will slay you every-time. Stuck in the middle of these two tracks is "Tyranny Of Will" and its another winner,a crunching riff and more filth ridden vocals from Mike Murro. The guitar duo of Stephen Edelson and Eric Sac are top-notch brutal exponents of the monster riff, they are totally locked into the groove at all times and play with some real passion. The rythym section of Chris Cherasaro (bass) and (i am assuming its his brother) Dave Cherasaro (drums) are totally solid. No Funeral in some ways harks back to the days of sludgy doom and metal in the late 80's and early 90's. There was a certain quality to the sound of the bands back then and Deathbeds also have that sound. The EP is over and done with in around 12 minutes so needless to say this band needs a full-length album out ASAP. If this is anything to go by, it will crush posers everywhere. 9/10

www.myspace.com/indeathbeds

Feb 3, 2010

Sasquatch - Sasquatch III

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Formed in Los Angeles back in 2001 by Keith Gibbs and Detroit natives Rick Ferrante and Clayton Charles, Sasquatch have built their reputation of no frills beer drinking rock n roll, nothing fancy here, they dont try to be or for that matter want to be. Drawing on sounds from ‘70s metal, rock and psychedelia, their songwriting approach is basic, preferring to set up a ass-kicking groove rather than complicate things with long solo's or progressive noodling. They could be classed as "stoner metal" but for the most part they are miles away from the scorching desert rock stonerisms that Kyuss made famous or the Californian fuzz of Fu Manchu. Sasquatch are more like up-tempo doom rock and roll with a hint of grunge served up with mountains of volume. I first heard them around the time of their debut album release back in 2004 and i have loved them ever since. That first album was a goldmine of classic hooks and killer riffs with sounds that ranged from Grand Funk Railroad to the souped up distorted heaviness of bands like Goatsnake and Earthride. The second album was more commercial overall and leaned more towards a classic 70's hard rock sound and that brings us up to 2010 and Sasquatch III. I hear the new album as somewhere in the middle of the first two albums, the fuzz is still intact but there is more emphasis on catchy songwriting than the previous albums. The album opener "Get out of Here" is a good example of the Sasquatch technique of musical ass-kicking, its a song based around a solid groove and hooks without sounding mainstream at all. Sasquatch seem like a band that doesn't follow a certain formula, they simply play how they feel. "Burning Bridges", "Walkin’ Shoes" stay much in the same vein as the opener but they manage to stay firmly in the mold of "stoner metal" without really sounding like anyone else. So many bands in this genre use influences such as southern rock as a backbone to their sound but Sasquatch avoid such obvious cliches. "Complicated" is one of the most riffy and catchiest tunes the band has ever wrote and "Soul Shaker" has a style all of its own especially in the start/stop arrangement. "New Disguise" sounds like a long lost song that Monster Magnet might have done at their peak but never released. "Queen" is one of those mid-tempo groover's that the band are famous for or at least famous in my mind. "Bare My Soul" sees the band in a more psych rock mood and "No More Time" is another groove based ass-kicker and it stands out as the strongest track on the second half of the album. That is where the only problem of the album is, the first half seems stronger than the second half but its a minor detail overall. Like i hinted at in the opening lines of this review, Sasquatch are a band that keep things straight-forward and you do get the feeling they could do a lot more with their songs than they actually choose to do. But this album is still great, the songwriting is top-notch and while Guitarist/vocalist Keith Gibbs is the focal point, the rhythm section of bassist Cas and drummer Rick Ferrante have pushed the band to new heights on this album. The songs are memorable, mostly catchy and the band has a certain talent for making a sound that is all their own. I still rate the debut as the best album they have made so far but this is a close second. 8.5/10

www.myspace.com/sasquatchrocks
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